Three Generations of the A82

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Rannoch Moor is a bleak, inhospitable and lonely place, the sort of place that you wouldn't fancy building a road across, which makes it even more surprising that the Moor is crossed by no less than three routes.

Three routes across the moor. Click to enlarge
Three routes together: the Military Road in blue, Telford's route in green and the modern A82 in red. Click to enlarge

The first of these was built after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. One of the major problems that the government had was the inaccessibility of the Highlands, making it difficult to deploy troops. As a result, over 1000 miles of Military roads were built in the ensuing 50 years.

By the turn of the century, however, these military roads were in need of a major upgrade, and so Thomas Telford was invited to survey the routes and make some recommendations. When it came to Rannoch Moor, the route he suggested involved building a new roadway for over half the distance.

With the advent of motor traffic, it soon became clear that even Telford's road was insufficient, and in 1931-3 as part of the unemployment relief schemes that saw mass roadbuilding across the country, yet another new road was built. Today, even that route is under threat as modern volumes and speed of traffic far exceed the roads designed capacity.

Rob Riley braved the wild moors to uncover the history of the mighty A82.

Thumbnail The Military Road

Thumbnail Telford's Road

Thumbnail The Modern Road

With thanks to Toby Speight and Clive for corrections to this section.